- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey lawyer who helped make racial profiling into an issue that got attention nationally has died in what authorities are calling a suicide.

William Buckman’s body was found Tuesday morning by police who were asked to check on him in the Residence Inn where he was staying in Mount Laurel, said Police Lt. Steve Riedener.

Buckman, 61, who lived in Cherry Hill, was one of the lead plaintiffs’ lawyers in State v. Soto, in which a judge found in 1996 that minority motorists were being pulled over on the New Jersey Turnpike because of their race. Charges against the drivers were dropped in the case, which was among the first in the nation the first to prove that police were using racial profiling.

Throughout his career, Buckman on a series of other cases on racial profiling and other civil rights issues, often working with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Buckman, who was white, also worked with the NAACP.

He could come off as gruff, but Buckman was known for helping other civil rights lawyers and charming juries.

Frank Corrado, who is chairman of the board of the New Jersey branch of the ACLU, said Buckman was well suited to that sort of law - representing citizens against the government.

“He knew how to frame and present cases,” Corrado said Thursday. “It’s not always the people who know the most intellectually about civil rights law who can litigate the cases. But Bill could do both.”

Ed Barocas, the legal director of the ACLU in New Jersey, said Buckman, was passionate about his work, which also included representing police whistle-blowers.

“He took on cases that were hard, he took on cases for the underdog and he did it out of a sense of justice and fairness,” Barocas said. “He was not one to sit back when he saw injustice.”


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